After three days of testimony from seven witnesses, the prosecution rested its case in the trial for actor Jussie Smollett.
In Jan. 2019, the actor, who played Jamal Lyon in the Fox drama “Empire,” reported two masked men attacked him in Chicago. Smollett alleged the men yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him, poured an “unknown substance” on him, put a rope around his neck, and told him he was in “MAGA country.”
Prosecutors have rested their case in the high-profile trial for the former “Empire” actor, but his legal team has requested a mistrial because of alleged actions from the judge.
Weeks later, police came to the conclusion Smollett hired the two men to pretend to attack him in an attempt to further his career and get a higher salary.
According to CNN, the men Smollett allegedly hired, brothers Abimbola “Bola” Osundairo and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, were called to testify by the prosecution on Wednesday and Thursday. Olabinjo Osundairo testified that Smollett had an idea to have “two MAGA supporters attack him” so he could “put that on social media.”
The brothers said Abimbola Osundairo was in charge of hitting Smollett, while Olabinjo Osundairo was tasked with putting a noose around the actor’s neck. One of the brothers was also supposed to pour gasoline on Smollet, but it was changed to bleach because Olabinjo Osundairo said he was uncomfortable with pouring gas on someone.
Smollett’s attorneys called for a mistrial in the case, alleging Judge James Linn lunged at attorney Tamara Walker while attorney Heather Widell said the judge was making facial expressions.
During cross-examination of Olabinjo Osundairo, the judge interrupted Walker as she pressed the witness about his use of homophobic language. Walker was instructed to move on from that line of questioning but maintained it is part of the team’s defense, CNN reported. Smollett’s legal team suggested homophobia may have been a motive in a real hate crime attack against Smollett that night.
During a sidebar, Walker began crying, claiming the judge was not letting her continue the critical line of questioning. “When you said the word mistrial, and I know you have some pressures here, I’m stunned that you would consider a mistrial. Ms. Walker, there were objections that had to be sustained and I was trying to get back on point,” Linn said. “There will be no mistrial.”
Smollett is facing felony disorderly conduct charges, which he has pleaded not guilty to. Since the incident became high profile, Smollett has not appeared in any new acting roles.